Name: Jen Petersen
Your Family: Married almost 11 years to Jeff, 2 rambunctious boys – ages 7 and 5 years old.
Your Location in the World: Grand Rapids, MI
Three favorites: Dark Chocolate, Baths, Tragic novels (all three of them together make about the best night possible).
What is your calling?
I believe that Call is something that shifts and changes over time, and yet always has some consistent thread to it. My calling has something to do with helping those without a voice to be heard. Right now, that means helping my children learn to express who they are in ways that others can hear them, and helping their schools to hear who they are, even when their voices sound different than those of the other children. And it also means helping people at Servant’s Community Church (and the neighborhood around her), hear the voice of God calling them beloved. It means helping people listen to their own stories and experiences, searching for where God has been present.
I have all kinds of dreams of what this might look like in the future. Maybe someday I’ll pursue a degree in pastoral counseling and spiritual direction. A trip to Israel and Palestine a couple of years ago got me dreaming about listening to stories of the people who live there and helping them to hear one another. I’ve recently become enthralled with restorative justice initiatives and restorative circles and wonder what part that might play in my future.
Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story:
The beginning of this call has always been learning to listen myself. I’m not always able to hear God call me the beloved. I worry that I’m not good enough for the work that I do – that one day everyone’s going to wake up and realize that I really have no idea what I’m doing. So I push myself too hard and worry about the things that I didn’t get done, or didn’t do well enough. And I feel it in my body. In college, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. In the years since then, I’ve learned that my body will tell me what my heart won’t pay attention to on it’s own. My aches and tense muscles are a sign that there’s too much of me and not enough listening to God’s voice, calling me into being.
How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal?
Even though I need frequent breaks from it, I love the Westside of Grand Rapids, where my family lives and my husband and I serve as co-pastors at Servant’s Community Church. So many people look in from the outside and see poverty and addiction and cycles that can’t be changed. But I love living close enough to see neighbors helping neighbors push their cars out of the snow banks or gathering on each other’s porches or taking in a friend who’s been evicted when the medical bills got to large. I care about our parks being clean, because they’re the parks my children play in, too. I fight for more equity in our schools because it’s my children’s daily experience at stake, too. Investing in the city isn’t something radical when you live here – it’s just wanting your kids to have a nice place to grow up, just like everyone else wants for their kids.
You can check out our church at Servant’s Community Church.
Or check out The Other Way Ministries, one of the many neighborhood organizations we partner with. You can also find a list of neighborhood partners there under “Partnership Organizations.”
Jen, It is so nice meeting you through Lisa!
My favorite line is this: “I worry that I’m not good enough for the work that I do – that one day everyone’s going to wake up and realize that I really have no idea what I’m doing.”
I get that. I really do.
Jen, Thank you for sharing your voice, it is so beautiful. I especially love the part about being a voice for those precious grand-boys of ours. Grace!
Thanks. They do a pretty good job of making their voices heard on their own most of the time 🙂
I just love this series and love meeting new people. This right here ~> “My calling has something to do with helping those without a voice to be heard.” What a beautiful calling. Blessings to you.
I am not always able to hear God calling me beloved either. It’s encouraging that you at times feel this way. Because in you I see his great love and his powerful hand in using your life in such beautiful ways. That gives me hope.